The Birth, Care, and Feeding of a Mailing List – Part 1


Hello out there in Blog Land. I’ve been posting tips about Advance Reader Copies, Beta Readers, and Street Teams. It occurred to me that, for some authors, this might be putting the cart before the horse. In order to form these things, I’ve found that they all come from one thing that I had to establish first, a mailing list.

The Birth of a Mailing List

stork_baby

There are numerous ways to establish a mailing list, both good and bad. What I have found is that, if you want engaged contacts that are likely to read what you have written, you need to concentrate on the quality of your mailing list and not the quantity of people on it.

In order to build a quality mailing list, you have to appeal to the interests of those that sign up. I have built the bulk of my list from two sources which I will expand on in future posts after I summarize them here.

First, I did a giveaway. When I released my first detective novel, Frankly Speaking, I did a giveaway using Rafflecopter. This service lets you set up a giveaway with pictures of the prizes and it collects contact information for those that enter. It’s really important to let your entrants know that you are putting them on your mailing list when you do this. My initial giveaway consisted of three prizes. First prize was a pen with an integrated video camera. It was about $50. Second prize was a signed copy of the book and third prize was an eBook copy. This resulted in about 700 mailing list subscribers.

Rafflecopter is a free service that integrates with another free service, MailChimp.  This service, which I’ll talk about in depth in another post,  allows the management of mailing lists and the setting up of newsletters and mail campaigns. For a minimal monthly cost, you can automate your mailings.

The second method I used, which I believe resulted in higher quality mailing list members, was to use the combination of Facebook advertising and MailChimp to give away copies of my first book to anyone that signed up. With MailChimp, I was able to link to stored .mobi (Kindle) and PDF copies of my book that subscribers could automatically download. Over a period of a month, this resulted in about 1,000 additional subscribers.

I’ve kept the giveaway and the free book subscribers separate on  MailChimp. The reason for this is my perception of the difference in the quality of these two groups. Those that took the chance on downloading my book might actually be more apt to buy future work and may be classified as readers. The giveaway group, in my opinion, is just made up of people that wanted free stuff. The reason that I want to keep them separate will become evident in the next section.

Care and Feeding

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Once you have a mailing list, you should not abuse it or your subscribers by sending them junk. One thing that you want to avoid is having people unsubscribe and flag you as a spam sender. This will damage the reputation of your mailing list and your email address. You don’t want this to happen or all of your posts will be ‘blacklisted’ and will go to spam folders everywhere never to be read or heard from again.

Be judicious about what you send. Make sure it’s content that your subscribers will be interested in. If you annoy enough of them and they unsubscribe and flag you as a spammer, all of your hard work on building your list will be for naught.

To keep your subscribers interested, you should involve them in your process, give them previews of upcoming work, tell them about events, and occasionally give them some bonus content.

You should not treat them like blog followers. A blog gives someone the choice if they want to look at your content. Filling up someone’s email inbox with content will put you on the road to Spamville in a hurry.

I hope this is helpful to you. I will publish more detailed posts about the use of giveaways and MailChimp in the future.

In the meantime, your comments and questions are welcome.

 

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